THE Bishop of Coventry has made a plea for the British government to offer sanctuary to more refugees trying to escape the civil war in Syria.
The Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth praised the welcome Coventry had given to refugees coming to the city, and he said that should serve as an example to policymakers.
Speaking at the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre’s annual meeting at Coventry University, (Apr 28) the Bishop said: “I have been really impressed by the deep well of civic compassion (in Coventry) and an appetite to help. The CRMC is a shining example of that.”
The Bishop, who is Patron of the CRMC, said he hoped that that compassion, combined with a will to help, would be seen by the government as evidence that the people of Britain were ready to be more generous.
“I would like our government to increase the quantity of refugees it receives,” he said. “At the same time, it’s not just about quantity, it’s about quality as well. The CRMC serves both those ends with its ongoing work on integration. Our commitment must be to long-term integration.”
The civil war in Syria has claimed an estimated 400,000 lives and displaced millions of people. Under the government’s resettlement programme, 190 Syrian refugees have been welcomed to Coventry, along with 30 Afghan interpreters who served with the UK armed forces in Afghanistan, and their families.
Nationally, the government has vowed to take 20,000 Syrian refugees over five years. But the Bishop pointed out that in Iraqi Kurdistan, refugees had swollen the population by one-third. He added: “We are making a very small contribution to a massive humanitarian need.”
“Nevertheless, here in Coventy, it’s a contribution of which we can be proud and which can be an inspiration to other cities.”
Praising Coventry City Council for welcoming Syrian refugees, he said: “Coventry has got a good story to tell. Our reputation for sanctuary is becoming known. We have something to say to the world about how our city is built on the values of peace, reconciliation, acceptance and welcome.”
Coventry’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Michael Hammon, also praised the city’s response to the refugee crisis.
“We should welcome refugees, but we should welcome them with a smile,” he said. “Where we can help, we must do so.”